LET THERE BE LIGHT!
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
FEBRUARY 16, 2014
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God, looking on the light, saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:3-4).
I grew up hearing the expression, “There’s light at the end of the tunnel.” It says a lot in few words, and makes me think of the intrepid men who excavated the tunnels through mountains to accommodate rail lines and road ways. I always thought of it when Lenny and I drove to Little Rock, AR, for whatever appointment he had at the VA there. Highway 540 has long expansion bridges which span vast valleys and one tunnel through the mountain. Though it is lighted, I always looked for the light at the end so I knew we were out of darkness into light.
Christians know that Christ is the light of the world. John the beloved said of Him, “The true light that enlightens EVERY MAN was coming into the world” (John 1:9). Paul’s statement thrills me, “For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone IN OUR HEARTS to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (II Cor. 4:6). God has shined light into our dark places so we may be “the light of the world, a city set on a hill” (Matt. 5:14). Lenny used to say that every one of the seven billion people in the world reflects one aspect of our Father. We reflect His light to a dark and desperate world because Christ lives in us, our hope of glory.
I have a candle array on my desk in front of Lenny’s and my grandchildren’s pictures. There are seven candles, different shapes and sizes, and when they are all lit as they are now, it brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart, for candles are a timeless symbol of God’s light and heat and glory. They are part of many religious ceremonies, including marriage, in which I’ve seen the pastor or priest take two lit candle tapers, bringing them together to light one large candle in the middle, symbolizing the essence of the union between man and wife wherein the twain shall become one flesh, one entity, and one family.
Every Catholic Church I’ve ever been in has an array of candles which one may light as a symbol of the prayers of the saints going up toward heaven. A friend spent the Christmas holiday in Canterbury, England. She brought me back a book mark and a pamphlet about candles from the beautiful Cathedral there. This paragraph speaks to me: “Lighting a candle is a parable: burning itself out, it gives light to others. Christ gave himself for others. He calls us to give ourselves.”
For me, lighting these candles on my desk reminds me that Jesus promised that, “he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). How incredible it seems sometimes, especially when life is too much and we are overcome with sadness, that the light of the world lives in me and in you. This truth is not about us, but about Christ in us, our hope of glory.
As those of you who read this blog regularly know, I have been in great sadness and some confusion since Lenny crossed over. Thanks to all of you who have prayed for me, and offered me love, compassion and understanding as I have traveled through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. A friend reminded me that this Valley has an end to it. King David wrote, “Even though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4). That Valley is not a place to put down tent pegs and set up housekeeping. It is temporary, having a beginning and an end to it. We do ultimately pass through it into the great light of God’s glory. I’m not there quite yet, but I do see light at the end of this tunnel I’ve been traveling in for the past seven months.
Grief is not a comfortable companion, to be sure, and I am quite weary of it, but Counselors and Psychologists tell us that we have to do our “grief work” when we lose someone dear to us. If we don’t, we run the risk of wearing the shroud of melancholy feelings for the rest of our lives. Having had lots of counseling earlier, I know that it is certainly true that what you don’t bring to consciousness and deal with owns you and colors everything in your life.
Back when I was a Realtor in Thousand Oaks, CA, our office rented a van and drove us into Los Angeles for a seminar, the essence of which is long gone from my memory, but what I remember from the experience was a woman with whom I had worked for a couple of years, but didn’t know personally. She began to tell me the horrendous details of her divorce, what a “baaaaaaad” man her ex-husband was, and how devastated she was.
I remember feeling her pain and empathizing with her distress, but imagine my surprise when I asked her how long ago the divorce was. She said, “Twelve years!” She had hung on to her anger, hurt, and distress all that time, and in her recounting it again, it seemed as hurtful to her that day as it had been twelve years earlier. That was a great object lesson to me of the necessity of unburdening ourselves to our Father who loves us unconditionally.
Perhaps this woman was still carrying guilt about her part in the divorce. Who would know what to do about that but Christ who died for her sins (and her ex-husband’s sins as well, by the way). For me, it does no good to howl out my grief to people who can do nothing about it. Only God can heal these deep wounds that abandonment and betrayal from others leave us to deal with.
A woman wrote sometime last fall asking me with help for her anger issues. She was troubled and probably ashamed that she couldn’t get relief from her anger, and she said she knew I wouldn’t judge her for these feelings. I shared with her my tried and true remedy for anger: tell it to our Father. Cry, yell, howl, out your rage for as long as it takes God to rid you of it. He can take your worst feelings and turn them into something wonderful. Long buried anger, if not dealt with, becomes that dreaded root of bitterness which can spring up, bringing us untold trouble, and causing us to feel defiled (Heb. 12:15). Only God can get at that deadly root and pull it out. The Hebrew writer says that the bitter root springs up because we have failed “to obtain the grace of God.” Been there, done that.
The answer for this depressing situation is the same as for every other problem we face. Back in the 70s, the expression, “Let go and let God” was popular. Like other sound bites, it only APPEARS to be easy to do. It really is impossible to do without God’s grace, His help, and His slow, methodical, progressive, and continuous prying our hands off the problem.
California is certainly a mega for self help gurus, who for a fee (usually the price of a book or video or classes), offer to teach the students to fix themselves. Real Estate is a prime target for such self-help programs. Our office would usually arrange transportation to these seminars, where we would hear the “spiel” from someone who had a book or video to sell. It didn’t take long for me to realize that these programs had a lot in common with most religions. Self effort is the game and success is the bait with which the trap is set. I’m very susceptible to such concepts, having grown up in a Fundamentalist church which pushed self effort as the only way to gain heaven and avoid hell.
Since I’ve written several thousand words about this before, suffice it to say unequivocally that it does not work! Any cure or panacea which puts me or you in the driver’s seat is doomed to fail, eventually. Only God can tackle the dilemmas that human beings bring upon ourselves. Only He can deliver us from ourselves, which He does regularly and expertly.
Father, we KNOW that You do all things well, and one more time, we surrender our wills to Your Will which always is done, and our efforts to Your effort which has completed everything You set out to do in Christ. We ask that You DELIVER us from any root of bitterness which may still be operating; SHINE Your light into whatever dark places that still exist in the depths of our psyche, and BRING us into continual and constant awareness of Your presence in our lives. You are the Light of the world. Shine through us Father, that others may be drawn to Your light and bask in the glory of Your love. In Christ we ask it, amen.